Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Traffic police to get masks; what about aam aadmi?

As the pollution levels rise in Bhopal, particularly in its congested parts, the
Pollution in Delhi
local Traffic Police have taken a decision to supply masks to the traffic cops. An admirable step as it indicates that the department cares for its employees. The department has, however, not thought of the general public. They too are exposed to the automobile fumes.

The Traffic department’s measure treats only the symptom, not its cause. One would have liked the department to force the wing concerned of the government to enforce rigorous checks on emission levels of vehicles plying on the city roads. The Bhopal Citizen Forum has taken up the matter with the government many a time but to no effect. Perhaps, it would have been responsive to a plea coming from one of its vital departments.

Perhaps, the government is waiting for the city to catch up with Delhi before it cranks up its rusty machinery into action. As has since been reported, Delhi has beaten Beijing in so far as atmospheric pollution is concerned and has replaced the latter as the most polluted city in the world.

Delhi seems to have lost the battle against air pollution that it had almost won a decade back on introduction of CNG in buses and autos. Since then the car population exploded, almost 40% of which are now diesel driven - a fuel that is far more polluting. No wonder, lakhs of people including children in Delhi suffer from bronchial problems, very well exemplified by Arvind Kejriwal who, during his sit in, coughed all the way to a hospital. But, Delhi alone is not the only polluted city in the country that should cause alarm bells to ring. Yale University's Environmental Performance Index for 2014 ranked India as one of the most polluted countries.

Hopefully, the MP government will not allow the quality of air in its urban centres to deteriorate to such an extent, particularly since two of its cities, Indore and Gwalior, are working their way up to match Delhi. Hence providing masks to traffic cops is not quite enough. What are needed are rigorous emission checks on vehicles and elimination of those which do not come up to the required standards.

Photo of pollution in Delhi is from the Internet

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